Chaya Mushka Seminary of Tzfat students put a whole new spin on Chanukah this year – bringing joy and delight to hundreds of area children from their very special “Chesed” program.
As part of their regular year-long seminary activities, school founder and director Rachel Leah Rosenfeld sends pairs of students to different families each week to help them in any number of ways. Many of the families are former students who attended the seminary’s sister program Machon Alte Seminary. The girls – and the families they help – develop a warm and rich bond that often lasts long after the school year ends.
This year, for the first light of Chanukah, families with toddlers and baby carriages in tow came streaming into the new simcha hall at the Seminary building – and were enthralled by the scope and thoughtfulness that went into the special program.
“Welcome! Welcome!” cried out seminary students Sarale Yurkovich, Chavi Vogel and Micha Paltiel – all dressed as human dreidels!!
“Please come, and make your own donuts,” they said, as they led the excited children to tables filled with mouth-watering donuts and a lavish array of make-your-own toppings.
Altogether there were some 16 different booths to keep the children well entertained with activities such as finding the coins in the flour, bowling down the Greeks on the water bottles, shooting the candles with water guns and papers to write Chanukah messages to their friends and family. There was simply so much to do and prizes to be received that it was hard to tell who was having a better time – the students or the children – or Mrs. Rosenfeld, who walked around the hall beaming at the success of the event and the warm, appreciative hugs she received from former students and Chesed families!
All 60 seminary students helped make the party a success, said one of the key organizers, seminary student Chasiya Vishedsky, of Crown Heights. “We do the chesed once a week and these are the families – but I guess it takes big parties like this to realize how many people you are affecting because here they all show up at once!
“We all worked really hard together and these projects make us better friends,” she added.
As the excitement in the large simcha hall mounted, seminary student Chanela Gurary, called all the children for a special Tzivos Hashem rally, where the children’s recitation of the 12 Passukim – must surely have reverberated around the world! As the children were being captivated by the Chanukah stories that were being told, the mothers were quietly ushered to the seminary’s library, where Machon Alte founder and dean Rabbi Yosef Rosenfeld, gave over a deep ma’amer about the true miracle of Chanukah – the light – the light of the inner aspects of the Torah and the relationship with HaKodesh Baruch Hu which defeated the devastating limitations of Greek intellect.
“I miss Rabbi Rosenfeld a lot,” said Simone Biton, a former Machon Alte student, who like so many others, had once stood within these very seminary walls and prayed with all her heart and soul to someday be blessed with a Chassidishe home and family.
Now, as Biton returned to the seminary with four beautiful children, she expressed delight at hearing Rabbi Rosenfeld’s moving lesson some 10 years down the road. “It was good to hear him. I love him. Machon Alte was very dear to me,” she said.
Ruchama Edri, who receives the “Chesed” angels into her home every week, came with handfuls of her excited children. “We wait all year for the Chanukah party,” said Edri. “It’s a warm and happy environment.”
Devorah Esther Harel, one of the first students to attend Seminary Chaya Mushka when it was founded some 12 years ago, brought her children ages 6, 4, 3 and one and a half. “It’s an amazing idea, to get a babysitter and go to a shiur – not something we get all the time.”
As the party came to an end, and the happy children and their mothers made their way home to light their menorahs, the Mushkie girls turned the Chanukah music even louder and all together pitched in to clear the hall.
It was yet another piece in the ongoing embroidery of light and joy and Torah in the Machon Alte/Chaya Mushka history.
May the joyous light of Chanukah be felt in the truest and deepest sense by all of Am Yisroel – including and especially Mrs. Rosenfeld’s beloved brother, The Lamplighter, Shalom Mordechai Ha Levy ben Rivka, who teaches us the message of Chanuka…to take the impossible and make it the possible!